I come from Nigeria, the most populous black nation in the world, the giant of Africa, a country of diverse cultures, ethnicities, dialects, languages and peoples; a place of abundant mineral, natural and human resources. Yet the citizens of my country still groan under the weight of poverty, violence, ethnic tribalism, and the menace of religious wars that threatens to tear us apart.
What then is my role as a citizen of Mother Earth and how am I supposed to fulfill this role as an immediate citizen of my country when the challenges before me are numerous. The political philosopher Thomas Paine declare ‘the world is my country, all mankind my brethren and to do good is my religion.’
So to do good is my first role as a citizen of earth, to engender harmonious and peaceful coexistence because for effective change to occur I must be the change. I must first take an inward look at my life and see how my actions have affected the world as a whole. Have I helped in preserving or depleting the resources of the environment? Have I taken others as my brothers and sisters or have I treated them differently because they are not of the same nationality, race, language, color as me. How have I contributed to global peace and helping to curb the menace of wars, conflicts, violence, injustice, poverty that pervades our world and threatens to tear us apart. Until we see ourselves as unified whole rather than divided halves, our problems will continue to exist. The Tamil poet rightly puts it ‘to us all towns are one, all men our kin’.
Every day on the news, I hear stories of kidnaps and the ever-increasing attack by the “boko haram” sect and I wonder when all these would end. I feel bad but for me and most other people that is where it ends, we are not the ones affected by the killings and bloodsheds. We do not know personally anyone affected by these inhumane treatments. What can I do to stop this killing of innocent people, people who have as much right to life as I do? I believe in a world where everyone is treated equally irrespective of the color of his or her skin or his or her religious belief. To stop the killing and violence, I as a citizen of my country must speak out against the killings. It is not enough just to feel bad, proactive actions must be taken. I heard that the government was planning of giving these criminals amnesty (not sure how true this is) in order for them to lay down their weapons. Why should they be granted amnesty? I do not believe in treating violence with violence but they should be made to face the music for their actions especially in the face of renewed attacks and the ‘chibok’ girls’ kidnaps.
Next is the issue of environmental pollution. How have I actually made the earth a lot cleaner and safer for future generations? We hear about the depletion of the ozone layers. We still contribute to the pollution of the air by the actions of chlorofluorocarbons gotten from aerosol cans and perfumes and exhaust fumes from our cars. We dump refuse on the road and it is a common action in Nigeria since no one will arrest you because we see the earth as a vast unlimited good i.e. the carrying capacity of air and water is large compared to our individual contribution to pollution. However, when we continue to reason this way, the combined effects of each person’s activities may be become disastrous. Moreover, we treat our natural resources as free goods that no one owns and therefore can be used without reimbursing .This attitude is wrong because natural resources are not unlimited, as we would like to think. Therefore, my role as a citizen of my country is to enlighten people about how their actions actually affect the environment and how to recognize that we are part of a larger system. We depend on the air for breathing, the sea for water and food, the land for building materials and food. Therefore, it becomes my duty and the duty of everyone to protect the welfare of the environment and the citizens of our country from the continuous violence we face if sustainable development is to be achieved.
Say no to insurgency and Yes to a peaceful Nigeria. God bless you all.